Next week is the Boston Sings (BOSS) festival, which will feature performances from 3 of the best professional a cappella groups in the world (Postyr Project, The House Jacks, and Five O’Clock Shadow). In an effort to provide a little insight and context leading up to that festival, I decided to ask one member of each group a few questions. First in the series will be our international guests, Postyr Project. Tine Fris was kind enough to answer a few questions for Acatribe.
Tine Fris is a soprano and arranger/songwriter for Postyr Project, a unique vocal group from Denmark with 5 singers and a tendency to fuse electronic or acoustic instruments with their voices. She holds a degree from the Royal Academy of Music in Denmark and is a music teacher who has written about vocal technique and songwriting for the Vocal Blog.
Postyr Project will be performing at the famous Bitter End in New York City on April 4 and then headlining the Professional Showcase concert at the Boston Sings festival on Saturday, April 6.
We wanted to explore the border between the natural softness of the human voices and the more rough and edgy sounds of electronic music. We also wanted to sing our own songs and to try to write new songs and arrange them in a way so they were bringing out the best in the voices – I think it is called voice idiomatic…? We want to explore. We want to tell stories. We want to feel. We want to change the perspective. We want to show all the colors, the pretty ones AND the not so pretty ones.
Postyr Project is certainly something original in the vocal community. Do you see the group continuing to push forward in new, unexplored directions musically?
We are still very much in the process of developing the group’s sound. We do that in the rehearsal room, but also very much in the studio. I think the focus more and more will be on the details and how we can refine the sound. Also, we can really feel that the new songs we write are written not only for voices and loops, but for voices, loops and “sound”/production. It is a bit difficult to explain, but I feel that I get a better and better idea about what the possibilities are, and this inspires us all to compose in different ways.
Your debut album features a number of songs which make use of electronic instruments, such as drums, and acoustic instruments, such as cello. Do you think this makes Postyr Project any less pure as an “a cappella” or “vocal” group?
I don’t really see us as an a cappella group. I mean, we have a few songs we sing strictly a cappella, but the whole foundation of the group is to fuse the voices with something else, so I would say that we are some kind of vocal group that produces vocal-based pop music. Or something like that. It is always difficult to label yourself, don’t you think? Personally, I love to sing a cappella, however, most of the music I compose needs a touch of something else to create the sound I have in my head. For some reason, I need a bit of disturbance to the soundscape…
In January, 2012, the group pulled off two remarkable live, web-streamed concerts which drew in viewers from all over the world. How difficult was it to set that up and to actually perform two separate concerts with many of the same songs in the same evening? What kind of response did you get?
Was it easy? NO! Was it fun? YES!!! Phew! That was a big project, and also quite expensive to be honest. But it was so much fun and something that we will never ever forget. As I said earlier, we love to explore and to find new ways of doing things, and with this interactive concert concept we saw an opportunity to reach out to our international followers and to bring some of the homey, casual feeling we have in our rehearsal room on stage and in that way gave the audience a chance to get to know us a bit better. To get closer. We had a lot of good feedback and viewers from more than 40 countries all over the planet. I sometimes meet people in concert that come up to me and tell me that they saw us online. That’s the best!
Is this the group’s first visit to the United States? Is it your personal first visit here? If so, do you have anything you hope or plan to see while you are here?
It is Postyr Project’s first visit to the United States. I have been here three times before, and I love it! Line and I decided to fly in to New York a few days early, so in a few minutes I am off to SOHO to do some serious (shoe) shopping. Later this week, I want to visit MoMA and Williamsburg and finish “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac while having a coffee at “Good Stuff Diner” or “Sunburst.”
What are some other vocal/a cappella groups in Europe or America that inspire or intrigue you?
I am very inspired by Latvian “Cosmos.” They don’t really exist anymore, but their album “Turbulence” is really something to check out! I am also very inspired by Jens Johansen, the conductor of the Danish XL vocal group Vocal Line, who basically taught me everything I know about vocal music. What else…I love to listen to Bjork’s record “Medulla.” Besides that I am crazy about other vocal-based music like Oh Land, Susanne Sundfoer, Fallulah and singer songwriters like Tina Dico, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell. Hmmm…. and when I want to disappear for an hour I listen to Keith Jarret’s Cologne Concert. This is pure beauty and creativity and being in the moment for me.
[Editor: I couldn’t resist looking up Cosmos, and this video is unique and utterly riveting…http://youtu.be/JbNI8huqG_M ]
Your new album has received some positive reviews in Germany. Any idea when it will be released in the United States?
We haven’t decided it yet, but we will let you know! And we brought a few of them here, so…
What kinds of things does Postyr Project have to look forward to in the rest of 2013?
We are touring throughout 2013. 70ish concerts in 12 countries in 4 continents. Not boring. Next stop after Boston and New York is The Netherlands, then Aarhus Vocal Festival in Denmark (www.aavf.dk), then Germany, Finland, Italy, Namibia, Germany, Taiwan, Latvia, Italy…and so on. We are also doing some collaboration projects with other groups, more about that later. While touring we are trying to write new songs and also we are busy putting more “wood on the fire” in Germany, where things are starting to roll with “My Future Self” on the radio and German MTV and much more. We are keeping our fingers crossed and we look forward to seeing the outcome.